10 April 2007

Sheep Search X Privacy Concerns

Watching the Search blog explosion. It would have been a lot more polite for the Sheep Search to have allowed people to opt out before they did the first datasweep. I was surprised to see islands on the search listings; I wonder if their definition of "private island" merely meant ones that aren't open to the public? Usually it means a sim that's not owned by LL. Ansche Chung, land baron extraordinaire, considers it a privacy violation and has banned them from scanning her properties. Assuming LL doesn't decide to put a stop to the scanning, I expect this will settle down after a couple weeks; everyone active on the grid will have adjusted their belongings to account for the search.

Prok's objections remind me once again that while I think of SL as a public space, many people don't. The only way to ensure it is to have your own private island and refuse to allow access, although Lindens can still come visiting.

Privacy on the grid is a social construct. Windowless buildings, locking doors, ban lines... they're all symbols of a desire for privacy, and it is technically possible to get around all of them. When I'm scripting or working on a delicate build, I've put myself in a large opaque hollow sphere, and people whose scripted scanners detect an avatar inside there will ignore the way the sphere says "pretend I'm not here" to see what I'm doing.

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